Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is that God takes care of our physical and spiritual needs if we put our trust in Him. He shares with us Jesus as our Savior and spiritual food, in Word and in Eucharist, thus preparing us for the Heavenly banquet, and challenges us to share our blessings with others.
Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, Isaiah consoles the Jewish exiles in Babylon, assuring them of their return to homeland and promising them that Yahweh their God alone can and will provide for their spiritual and physical needs. He will pardon their sins and will offer them participation in His eschatological banquet. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145), has us sing, “The Hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs,” in praise of the mercy, forgiveness and maternal care of a loving and providing God. In the second reading, Paul argues that since God’s love for us is so immense and infinite, “nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrates God’s caring love for us by feeding the people, spiritually by his preaching and physically by the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, which the apostles had brought for their lunch and which they gave Jesus to feed the people. This miracle shows the Divinity of Jesus, the providing care of God and the compassion of Jesus for the crowd. It is a Messianic sign, presenting Jesus as the new Moses who fed the Israelites in the desert and the new Elisha who miraculously fed the starving people of Gilgal (2 Kings 42-44). The Eucharistic wordings used, and the promise made by Jesus on the following day, that he would give his body and blood as food and drink (John 6:25-70), make the miracle a prefiguring symbol of the Holy Eucharist.
Life messages: 1) We need to nourish our souls with Jesus in Word and Sacrament. We nourish our souls with the Word of God (by listening to God through reading the Bible) and with the Bread of Life (by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion). We need to find time to be with Christ both in personal and family prayer and in Adoration of the Eucharist whenever this is available. One way of listening to God is to read a passage in the Bible until it speaks to the heart, then stop to reflect on the message God is conveying to our hearts. The next step is to respond to God by prayer, which is talking to Him, as to a friend in conversation, telling Him everything and asking Him for whatever we need.
2) We need to be “Eucharistic ministers:” We too, can perform miracles in our own time and place, by imitating the four “Eucharistic actions” of Jesus: take humbly and generously what God gives us, bless it by offering it to others in God’s love, break away from our own needs and selfish interests for the sake of others, give with joy-filled gratitude to God who has blessed us with so much. 3) We need to be generous in sharing God’s blessings: We need to share our blessings with others around us, generously and sacrificially, in order to alleviate their spiritual and physical hunger. God lavishly blesses the large-hearted, who generously and sacrificially share their resources with others.
OT XVIII [A] (Aug 2): Is 55:1-3; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21
Homily-Starter Anecdotes: (Biblical reason why preachers may use anecdotes in their homilies? Mt 13: 34: All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable).
#1:“I shared my rice because she has several starving children:” From her personal experience, Mother Teresa relates a story showing how generous the poor are, and how ready to share what little they have with others because they themselves have experienced hunger and poverty. Learning of a poor Hindu family in Calcutta who had been starving for many days, Mother Teresa visited them and gave a parcel of rice to the mother of the family. She was surprised to see that the woman divided the rice into two equal portions and gave one to her Moslem neighbor. When Mother Teresa asked her why she had done such a sacrificial deed, the woman replied: “My family can manage with half of what you brought. My neighbor’s family is in greater need because they have several children who are starving.” In the Synoptic Gospels’ account, the Apostles (in John’s account, a young boy), gave Jesus all they/he had — five small loaves of barley bread and two dried fish, — and Jesus used that tiny amount to feed a multitude. Thus, either the apostles, or the young boy, became the instrument of a miracle in Jesus’ hands. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
# 2: “Cheeseburger Bill:” Statistics tell us that Americans eat 75 acres of pizza, 53 million hot dogs, 167 million eggs, 3 million gallons of ice cream, and 3,000 tons of candy a day. As a result, fifty-five percent of American adults are overweight and 23 percent of us are obese, costing this country about $118 billion in lost wages and medical expenses annually. On March 10, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill known as the “Cheeseburger Bill” designed to protect fast food companies from lawsuits filed by overweight people. One billion of the world’s richest people consume 80 percent of the earth’s resources (World population in 2020 is 7. 8 billion). Another five billion consume 15 percent, leaving 5% for 1.8 billion chronically malnourished people, most of them women and children. Seven million children in the world under the age of five die each year from malnutrition. Someone has noted that the average person BLINKS his eyes 13 times every minute, and in every minute 13 people starve to death. Even in the U.S., there are 3.8 million families who experience hunger, and up to 12 million families are concerned about having enough food to feed their families. The problem is not how much food is available; the problem is distribution. In the U.S., food production has tripled since World War II while the population has only doubled, so why are there hungry people? The percent of personal income given to charity in the United States was 2.9 percent during the Great Depression and 2.5 percent in 2002 and less in 2014. Is hunger a problem of production or a lack of faith? Hunger is real. And food is the subject of the miracle in today’s Gospel when Jesus miraculously fed the nearly 20,000 people present on that Galilean hillside.
# 3: Frightening Hunger statistics: Statisticians report that for at least two thirds of the world’s population, hunger is a daily experience — not the slight twinge of discomfort or abdominal rumbling which may occur if a meal is skipped or delayed, but the deep, painful, sunken-eyed, body-emaciating type of hunger which is virtual starvation. Every hour of every day, at least 1500 people die of hunger or hunger-related causes while farmers in some of the world’s wealthiest industrialized nations are paid not to grow certain crops and to relegate others to storage bins and warehouses. To further compound this untenable situation, billions of dollars are spent annually on a variety of weight loss products and programs because one third of the world’s population is sated with seventy-five percent of its food supply. Since most of the readers of this publication are probably among the fortunate, for whom physical hunger is not a routine experience, it may be difficult to fully appreciate the impact of today’s readings. In both the first reading and the Gospel, the hungry are called to come and be filled at the banquet which the Lord freely provides. The significance of these readings lies in the fact that, in addition to providing for their physical appetites, the Lord is also offering to satisfy the spiritual hungers of His people. (Sanchez Files).
# 4: Hams for the Hungry and Aspirin for the sick: Four years ago, young Matthew LeSage, a third-grader, wanted to do something to help the hungry in his city. So, he started a program, Hams for the Hungry. This year, in its fourth year, Hams for the Hungry will raise $40,000 to brighten the holiday season for people with limited resources. Matthew’s story reminds me of another young man, 13 years old at the time, who read about Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s missionary work in Africa. He wanted to help. He had enough money to buy one bottle of aspirin. He wrote to the Air Force and asked if they could fly over Dr. Schweitzer’s hospital and drop the bottle down to him. A radio station broadcast the story about this young fellow’s concern for helping others. Others responded as well. Eventually, he was flown by the government to Schweitzer’s hospital along with 4 1/2 tons of medical supplies worth $400,000 freely given by thousands of people. This, of course, would be the equivalent of millions of dollars today. When Dr. Schweitzer heard the story, he said, “I never thought one child could do so much.” In John’s account, our story from Matthew’s Gospel is about a young man who didn’t have much. But what he did have, he offered to Christ. And thousands of hungry people were fed. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the provident care of a loving and merciful God who generously shares His riches with us and invites us to practice His sharing love in our lives. After announcing the return of God’s chosen people to their homeland from Babylonian captivity, the prophet Isaiah, in today’s first reading, concludes his prophecies with God’s invitation to the eschatological banquet. The grace of God is compared to freely given food and drink. Yahweh’s gracious invitation in the first reading is echoed in the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145), which reminds us, “The eyes of all look hopefully to You, and You give them their food in due season; You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” In the second reading, Paul argues that since God loves us, “nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus demonstrates the provident care of God the Father by miraculously feeding a multitude of people in a remote, desolate village called Bethsaida Julius, where the River Jordan flows into the north end of the Sea of Galilee. In Matthew’s account, Jesus acts out of his great compassion for the crowds. First, he challenges the disciples to give what they have — five loaves and two fish. Then he performs the four-fold action that prefigures the Eucharist: He takes, raising His eyes to Heaven blesses, breaks and gives the bread and fish to the assembled multitude, making of them a community of the Lord’s banquet. Just as God supplies the needs of all living beings, so Jesus also heals the sick and feeds the hungry. This event indicates God’s power in Christ as well as His mercy.
The first reading (Isaiah 55:1-3) explained: Chapters 40-55 of Isaiah record prophecies concerning the end of the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews would return to their devastated homeland from slavery. Promising fertility of crops and livestock through His prophet, the Lord God meant to give the people hope and to keep them from losing Faith in Him. The people were promised abundant water, grain, milk, wine, and bread — with a renewal of God’s covenant. Isaiah’s prophecy repeatedly assured the people that poverty would not be a barrier to their enjoyment of God’s bounty: “You, who have no money, come.” “Come, without paying and without cost.” “Why spend … your wages for what fails to satisfy?” This would be a reassurance to people who were ashamed of the sins that had led them into exile. God was telling them that they didn’t have to pay their own ransom, but that He (Yahweh) would do it out of undeserved mercy and love because He had made an everlasting Covenant with His people. Jesus is the fulfillment of this invitation for free meals and drinks in Isaiah 55:1 because he describes himself as Living Water and as Bread from Heaven. Deutero-Isaiah’s vision of the messianic banquet was realized through Jesus’ actions at the institution of the Holy Eucharist at his Last Supper. The concluding sentence explains why the audience is invited to “eat the finest” and “delight in delicacies.” The reason is that in God’s Kingdom, everyone becomes king, sharing the “benefits assured to David.” Finally, the Divine promise of life – “Listen, that you may have life!” – takes on new and fulfilled meaning in Christ’s Resurrection.
Responsorial Psalm 145: Yahweh’s gracious invitation in the first lesson is echoed in the Responsorial Psalm – Yahweh is “good to all, His compassion is over all that He has made” (v. 9) – and specific details are added: the fallen and bowed down are rescued, all creatures are fed, and all who call on Him and cry to Him are heard. In verse 10, not used in today’s selection, the Psalmist declares that the response of all creatures to this unmerited generosity is to praise and bless Yahweh. The first reading and psalm agree that God is like a caring mother, delighting in pleasing us and meeting all our needs. For our part, we need do nothing other than to accept this loving care, with our gratitude expressed as obedience to His commandments.
The second reading: (Romans 8:35, 37-39) explained: Some of the Judeo-Christians in Rome insisted that the Gentile Christians needed to observe at least some aspects of the Law of Moses. Paul, on the other hand, argued that it was enough to put one’s faith in Jesus and let God save us through His unearned and undeserved grace. Hence, the Gentile converts to Christianity had no obligation to keep any aspect of Jewish law, although Jewish converts could do so if they wished. In today’s lesson from the letter to the Romans, Paul answers the question, “Well, if God loves us so much as to save us by unearned grace, why is everything still so difficult? Why are we suffering?” Paul’s response sounds like a lawyer’s dramatic closing argument in a hard-fought trial when he declares, “neither death nor life…nothing that exists…can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.” For Paul, these are the trials through which we triumph.
Gospel exegesis: The symbolism of the multiplication of bread: The multiplication of the loaves is described six times in the Gospels: twice in Matthew and Mark and once each in Luke and John. The numbers are symbolic. For example, the word “basket” refers to the Jewish basket, and 12 suggests the twelve tribes. The language used echoes that of Moses feeding the people in the desert. The number 5 might refer in some way to the Pentateuch. The location is Jewish territory. The echoes of Moses are important for Matthew’s Gospel because his community had only recently broken from the mother religion of Judaism and would like to claim for itself the fulfillment of what the Mosaic traditions pointed to.
Herod’s banquet versus Jesus’ banquet: In today’s Gospel, Matthew intentionally contrasts two “banquets”: one hosted by Herod which resulted in the death of John the Baptist (Mt 14:1-12), and the feeding of a large crowd by Jesus near the shore of the Sea of Galilee (14:13-21). Herod’s banquet took place in an environment of scheming and arrogance and concluded with a murder. Prior to feeding the crowd that was following him, Jesus felt compassion for their needs and healed their sick. Herod’s banquet was held at a royal court. Jesus’ meal with this crowd was performed in a “deserted” place or wilderness. Matthew uses these two meals, Herod’s great banquet and Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000, to prefigure Jesus’ coming “Last Supper” and death. Jesus’ path to kingship was quite the opposite of Herod’s, which was littered with corpses. Jesus’ path to kingship was the offering himself on behalf of others (20:28). In Matthew’s account, this miracle happened right after the death of John the Baptist. Jesus’ forerunner was dead; he had finished his work, and so he died at the hands of Herod. John’s death foreshadowed Jesus’ own death at the hands of Pontius Pilate.
Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness: This withdrawal could have been meant to provide a period of rest and reflection for Jesus and his disciples, a time for the disciples to be taught by Jesus. It might also have been meant to allow Jesus to avoid possible danger after the execution of John the Baptist. But when Jesus stepped ashore, he was faced with a large crowd of people. His immediate reaction was one of deep compassion, and he began to heal the sick among them.
A great miracle before a multitude: The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is found in all four Gospels, although the context and emphasis varies. Told no less than six times in the four Gospels, the event of the loaves and fish is the only miracle so emphasized. This is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, that is told in all four Gospels, a fact that speaks of its importance to the early Church. [Compare Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:1-14]. The miraculous feeding narrative expresses the conviction that, through Jesus, we share in God’s own abundance and in the promises made to God’s covenant people: “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs,” we sing as our Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145) Refrain today. Matthew says that there were about 5,000 men, not including women and children. According to some commentators, this means that there could have been as many as 20,000-30,000 people present. The miracle suggests the Old Testament story of the people of Israel being fed with manna in the wilderness, as well as that of the multiplying of oil and bread by Elisha. The story should be treated as a witness to the power of God and an implicit declaration of Jesus’ Divinity. In the Synoptic accounts, the story also shows Christ empowering the disciples, to whom He gives the loaves and fish to distribute to the crowd, to continue his works of compassion. We may regard the incident both as a miracle of Divine providence and as a Messianic sign in which Jesus multiplied loaves and fish in order to feed his hungry listeners. The lesson for every Christian is that, no matter how impossible his or her assignment may seem, with Divine help it can be done because “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). The twelve baskets clearly represent the twelve tribes of Israel as well as the twelve apostles who are part of the New Israel. They will become the twelve sources transmitting God’s generous comfort and aid to His people.
The Old Testament parallels: Throughout his Gospel, Mathew draws parallels between Moses and Jesus to help his community begin to identify themselves as a Church of Christian disciples, rooted in, yet distinct from, Judaism. God told Moses to feed 600,000 men fit for military service, for a month. Moses said he could not do that because he did not have sufficient food (Numbers 1:22). Consequently, God showered manna for bread and sent quails for meat. Matthew clearly intends to portray Jesus as similar to Moses, yet surpassing him, as the bringer of a new age. Jesus makes this connection even more explicit when he refers to manna in his “Bread–from–Heaven” discourse (John 6:31-49), which follows the feeding of the five thousand in John’s Gospel, These feedings are also reminiscent of Elisha’s feeding miracle in II Kings 4:42-44. In that story, Elisha had only twenty barley loaves to feed the starving people of Gilgal. When he ordered his servant to distribute the bread, the servant protested, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha reaffirmed the order, promising, “They shall eat and have some left.” The servant distributed the bread; the people ate — and there was bread left over in fulfillment of the Word of God. The linkage between the stories is made even tighter by the reference to barley loaves in John 6:9. Allusions in today’s Gospel (multiplication of loaves and fish) show how Jesus recapitulated and fulfilled the Old Testament story. The people here followed a new and greater Moses into the desert, where he fed them with miraculous bread. Jesus also showed himself greater than Elisha the prophet, who fed 100 men from 20 barley loaves, with “some left over.” In the gospel story, five loaves and two fish sufficed for 5,000 men, and their families, with twelve baskets left over. The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a clear affirmation of God’s providence. Just as the merciful God fed the wandering Israelites with manna in the desert, Jesus, “his heart moved with pity,” fed the crowds who had come to hear him. Just as Elisha’s miracle foreshadowed Jesus’ miracle in Galilee, which in turn foreshadowed the Last Supper, the Eucharist we now celebrate, foreshadows the Banquet of Heaven. It not only foreshadows it, but already enables us to begin participating in it. Now, partaking in the Lord’s Supper nourishes the spiritual life of the believer. Through the Holy Eucharist, Jesus also satisfies our spiritual hunger for Truth, for freedom, for peace, for understanding, for justice and for love.”
A miracle of generous sharing? Contemporary, scientifically minded, free-thinking modern believers who deny everything miraculous, are skeptical about a multiplication of loaves. Hence, some interpreters propose that the “miracle” was Jesus’ success in getting this group of people to share their personal provisions. According to them, it appears strange and unnatural that the crowd had made this nine-mile long expedition to such a desolate village without taking anything to eat. So, the crowd had, in fact, brought food with them in their wicker baskets, but were unwilling to share with others. If such was the case, Jesus might have deliberately borrowed the five loaves and two fish from his apostles in order to set a good example for the crowd. Moved by this example of generosity, the crowd might have done the same: thus, there was enough for all. This rather fanciful and non-Biblical explanation may still be considered a miracle: it shows how the presence of Jesus miraculously turned a crowd of selfish men and women into a fellowship of generous sharers. But a more literal understanding of the story is the Biblically correct one and traditionally accepted view. (1) Pope Francis on the miracle of sharing: vhttp://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/pope-francis-on-the-parable-of-the-loaves-and-fishes-11-things-to-know-and (2) 20 reasons why sharing miracle view is wrong: http://catholicslovejesus.com/Teaching%20Truth%20about%20Miracle%20of%20Loaves..htm
A symbol of the Eucharist: The early Christian community especially cherished this story because they saw this event as anticipating the Eucharist. The same main actions and verbs (took, blessed, broke gave) were used to describe both the loaves event and the institution of the Eucharist. The way in which Jesus’ actions are described [“looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples,”] makes a connection with Jesus’ Last Supper and the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist. The miracle itself is a symbol of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of unity, and the sharing of the broken bread is a sign of a community that shares and provides in abundance for the needs of its members. Matthew invites us to see this miracle as a type or symbol explaining the Sacrament’s meaning. Probably, the telling of the story has been shaped by the Eucharistic customs of the early Christian community: “taking the . . . loaves,” “blessed,” “broke,” “gave,” “ate.” Clearly the account suggests the early Christian rite of the breaking of the bread (early form of the Holy Mass), celebrated on Sundays, rather than the Covenant-sacrifice meal, which was probably, in the earliest days, a single, annual Christian Passover celebration. Their “breaking of the bread” also had eschatological associations: it was an anticipation of the Messianic banquet. The Church’s Eucharist today combines both the sacrificial and the eschatological associations. In the recent past, emphasis has been placed more on the sacrificial than on the eschatological aspect, but the imbalance is now being redressed.
Catechism of the Catholic Church on the symbolism: This “massive” feeding of so many thousands of needy people prefigures the “superabundance” of this unique bread of the Eucharist (CCC #1335). The first Christians recognized this miracle of the breaking of the bread not only as the reality of the Real Presence of Jesus, but also as the sign of their call to be in communion with one another as the united Body of Christ (CCC #1329).
Life messages: 1) “You give them something to eat.” Today’s readings tell us that God really cares about His people and that there is enough and more than enough for everybody. Studies show that the world today produces enough food in grain alone to provide every human being on the planet with 3,600 calories a day, not counting such foods as tuber crops, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits, meats, and fish. Over the past twenty-five years, food production has exceeded world population growth by about 16%. This means that there is no good reason for any human being in today’s world to go hungry. But even in a rich country like the U.S.A., one child out of five grows up in poverty, three million people are homeless and 4000 unborn babies are aborted every day. “The problem in feeding the world’s hungry population lies with our political lack of will, our economic system biased in favor of the affluent, our militarism, and our tendency to blame the victims of social tragedies, such as famine. We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished. Therefore, it is necessary to arouse a sense of responsibility in individuals, especially among those more blessed with this world’s goods.” (Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (1961) 157-58).
It is too easy to blame God, too easy to blame governments, too easy to see these things as other people’s problems. They are also our problems. That is the meaning of the Eucharist we celebrate here today. In other words, as Christians we have to commit ourselves to share and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all. God is a caring Father, but He wants our co-operation. That’s what the early Christians did, generously sharing what they had with the needy. They were convinced that everything they needed to experience a fulfilling life was already there, in the gifts and talents of the people around them. People of our time have to be encouraged to share, even when they think they have nothing to offer. Whatever we offer through Jesus will have a life-giving effect in those who receive it. We are shown two attitudes in John’s account (John 6:7-9) of the Gospel story: that of Philip and that of Andrew. Philip said, in effect: “The situation is hopeless; nothing can be done.” But Andrew’s attitude was: “I’ll see what I can do, and I will trust Jesus to do the rest.” Let us have Andrew’s attitude.
2) God blesses those who share their talents with loving commitment. This is illustrated by Mother Teresa who went to serve the slum-dwellers of Calcutta with just twenty cents in her pocket. When she died forty-nine years later, God had turned her original twenty cents into eighty schools, three hundred mobile dispensaries, seventy leprosy clinics, thirty homes for the dying, thirty homes for abandoned children and forty thousand volunteers from all over the world to help her. We can begin our own humble efforts at “sharing” right here in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Knights of Columbus and so many other volunteer groups. We may say, “I do not have enough money or talent to make any difference.” But we need to remember that the young boy in the story had only five loaves of bread and two fish. The Bible guarantees that every believer has at least one gift from the Holy Spirit. This is our one “tiny fish.” Perhaps our “fish” is not money, but a talent or an ability that God has given us. We all have something. If we have never trusted God with our time, or our talent, or our treasure…all our resources…this is the time to start. Let us offer everything to God saying, “Here is what I am and what I have Lord; use me.” And He will, blessing and amplifying everything beyond our expectations. As we begin to give, we will discover that the Lord moves in where we are not adequate, and He abundantly supplies what is needed. When we give what we have to God, and we ask Him to bless it, it is then the miracle happens.
3) We need to be “Eucharistic ministers”: We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place, by imitating the four “Eucharistic verbs” of Jesus: take humbly and generously what God gives us, bless it by offering it to others in God’s love, break away from our own needs and selfish interests for the sake of others and give with joy-filled gratitude to God who has blessed us with so much.
4) We need to eat Jesus the Bread of life. How do we eat Jesus Christ? How do we digest the Son of God? One way is by maintaining daily private devotions, spending time alone with Christ, apart from the family and the busyness of the day. It means taking some time – five, ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes – each day to spend in the presence of Christ, the Bread of Life. We can take the Bible, read a passage until something speaks to the heart, then stop, reflect on what has been and ask, “What is God saying to me in this passage? Is there a command to obey? A promise to claim? An example to follow? A sin to avoid? A prayer to echo?” This is called reflection or meditation. We get quiet and still, focus our mind on God and his Word. The next step is to respond to God by prayer which is talking to Him, speaking to Him as to a friend in conversation, telling Him everything and asking Him for whatever we need. By doing this day in and day out, we will be feeding our soul with the Bread of Life. We will grow strong within. Our Faith will mature. We can eat the Bread of Life also in the public worship of the Church at the Eucharistic celebration, when that is available to us. We gather where fellow-believers join hearts and voices in praising God and listening to His Word taught and preached in a Church service. Since Christ is the heart and center of the Bible, we can say that the Bible is the Bread of Life. When the Bible is preached, the pastor is breaking the Bread of Life for us. Christians feed on the Word of God as they hear it in Church. In Holy Communion, we really eat the glorified body of the Risen, Living Lord and drink his blood and share in his divine life.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
1) A nervous young priest, concluding his first sermon, told the flock, “For my text next Sunday, I will take the words, “And they fed five men with five thousand loaves of bread and two thousand fishes.” A member of the flock raised his hand and said, “That’s not much of a trick. I could do that.” The priest didn’t respond. However, the next Sunday he
decided to repeat the text. This time he did it properly, “And they fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fishes.” Smiling, the priest said to the noisy man, “Could you do that, Mr. Perkins?” The member of the flock said, “I sure could.” “How would you do it?” asked the minister.
“With all the food I had left over from last Sunday!”
Websites of the week:
Catholic Directory: http://www.thecatholicdirectory.com/
Rosary for life: http://www.cenaclesoflife.org/index.php
Faith formation in the family: http://www.faithfirst.com/
Catechism in families: http://www.blestarewe.com/
Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
20- Additional anecdotes
1) We are over-eating ourselves to death: Experts tell us that Americans are over-eating themselves to death. Obesity is America’s number one health problem. The average American eats daily nine hundred more calories than he needs. It is reported that fifty percent of us are overweight. Fifty-three percent of the deaths are caused by diseases that are related to obesity. Americans spend annually ten billion dollars on diets and slimming programs. Even our dogs are over-fed. Look at the miserable contrast: the overfilled stomachs of dogs almost touching the ground and the bloated stomachs of children suffering from malnutrition! If we had compassion on the poor and hungry, we would voluntarily change our life-styles to those which would call for less food in-take. Then, we could take the money saved from buying less food and give it to our Church’s program to send food abroad to the destitute. One denomination within a two-year period gave eight million dollars for world hunger. This was possible because loyal members sacrificed by eating less that others might eat more. Jesus gave the bread to the apostles to distribute to the people. In our day those who have food, as America does, should have the compassion of Jesus to share with those who have little or no food. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
2) Spiritual hunger leading people to New Age religions: Physical hunger is a very real fact of life. Spiritual hunger is just as real., and there are many millions more who are spiritually malnourished, while multitudes are dying of spiritual starvation. Many of the symptoms of spiritual hunger are seen here and all over the world. We see today spiritually hungry people who are going outside the Church for soul food. This is a judgment upon the Church for apparently not satisfying the spiritual needs of the people. Forty-two million Americans, for instance, or one out of every five, has espoused astrology. They believe that the position of the stars has something to do with their daily lives. Two-thirds of our newspapers carry a daily horoscope. Eight out of every ten Americans can tell you under what star they were born. This turning to astrology is an indication that people are looking for something transcendent; they are looking for guidance from a force beyond themselves. Six million Americans have embraced Transcendental Meditation and thirty thousand new people each month are signing up for instruction. This points to a need for meditation to get in touch with God, something many Church people must feel they are not getting now. Add to this number five million people who are seeking union with God by Yoga. Three million Americans belong to the charismatic movement, meeting a desire for an experience with the Spirit. Many of these charismatics claim that the average church is cold and lacking in spiritual warmth. Add to this, various heretical sects that are attracting people by the tens of thousands: Scientology and the Unification church by Moon. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
3) Junk food for the souls: What is feeding our spirits? Many Americans get their food from television. It is reported that the average child watches twenty-three hours of television per week. By the time a child reaches age eighteen, he has watched twenty-three thousand hours of television, equivalent to three years of his life. And what do they get on television, what feeds their minds and hearts? They are fed materialism through the constant appearance of commercials, often six at a time. In 1976, it is said, television stations ran three hundred thirty-five thousand commercials per month! In these commercials we are fed with a materialistic view of life. We are told that things make life happy and worthwhile. Buy, buy, and have all the good things in life! In addition, television is feeding us with sex and violence, more of these coming each year. By the time a child reaches age eighteen, it is claimed that he has seen eighteen thousand murders. On children’s television cartoons, an act of violence is shown at the rate of one per minute. These scenes of violence are sowing the seeds of hatred, brutality, and vengefulness in the hearts of people. The tragedy of our times is that we are content to feed our souls with ‘empty calories,” when we could be getting a spiritual banquet. We are living on chaff and husks rather than the good meat of a steak. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
4) “You’d never believe it, Dad.” Charles Swindol tells a funny story about a nine-year-old named Danny who came bursting out of Sunday school like a wild stallion. His eyes were darting in every direction as he tried to locate either mom or dad. Finally, after a quick search, he grabbed his Daddy by the leg and yelled, “Man, that story of Moses and all those people crossing the Red Sea was great!” His father looked down, smiled, and asked the boy to tell him about it. “Well, the Israelites got out of Egypt, but Pharaoh and his army chased after them. So the Jews ran as fast as they could until they got to the Red Sea. The Egyptian Army was gettin’ closer and closer. So Moses got on his walkie-talkie and told the Israeli Air Force to bomb the Egyptians. While that was happening, the Israeli Navy built a pontoon bridge so the people could cross over. They made it!” By now old dad was shocked. “Is THAT the way they taught you the story?” “Well, no, not exactly,” Danny admitted, “but if I told you the way they told it to us, you’d never believe it, Dad.” It’s more popular to operate in the black-and-white world of facts … and, of course, to leave no space for the miraculous. And so when we read the story of the feeding of the five thousand, we tend to focus our attention on the question, “Did it really happen? Or was it a miracle of sharing the bread people had with them? ” Some say that this young fellow’s example encouraged other people to share food they had brought with them for the journey. But today’s Gospel presents it as a real miracle. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
5) We should rethink our own stewardship of the earth’s resources: Did you know, for example, that six million Europeans eat as much food as 240 million Africans? Even more startling, the citizens of this country, who form only 5.7% of the world’s population, eat half the food produced in the world. Somebody’s eating more than his/her share! We spend ten times more money on the feeding of cats and dogs than the sovereign country of Guinea earns as its national income. We are an indulgent, wasteful people. We each need to examine our stewardship of the bounty with which God has blessed us. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
6) “I’ll pay it for you.” In 1930, during the Great Depression, a man named Golden Rule Jones was mayor of Toledo, Ohio. During his term of office, he sometimes sat as the presiding judge in night court. One night a man was brought in for stealing money from a grocery store. His defense was that he needed the money for food and that he was simply a victim of hard times. Nevertheless, Golden Rule Jones found him guilty. “You did not steal from society.” he said. “You stole from a private citizen and you broke the law. I’m fining you ten dollars. However,” and he reached for his wallet, “I’ll pay it for you.” Next he instructed the bailiff to pass the hat around the courtroom. “I’m fining everybody here at least fifty cents. You’re all guilty of being members of a society that made it necessary for this man to steal. The collection will go to the defendant.” . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
7) “Help, I can’t swim:” In one of his books, Chuck Swindoll tells about a very interesting case that came before the courts in the state of Massachusetts back in the 1920s. It concerned a man who had been walking along a pier when suddenly he tripped over a rope and fell into the cold, deep waters of that ocean bay. He came up sputtering, screaming for help, then sank beneath the surface. For some reason he was unable to swim or stay afloat. His friends heard his faint cries in the distance, but they were too far away to rescue him. But within only a few yards was a young man lounging on a deck chair, sunbathing. Not only could the sun-bather hear the drowning man plead, “Help, I can’t swim,” he was also an excellent swimmer. But the tragedy is that he did nothing. He only turned his head to watch indifferently as the man finally sank and drowned. The family of the victim was so upset by that display of extreme indifference, they sued the sun-bather. The result? They lost the case. With a measure of reluctance, the court ruled that the man on the dock had no legal responsibility whatsoever to try to save the drowning man’s life. You and I can turn a deaf ear to the needy of this world. We can callously shrug our shoulders and say, “Let God feed them.” But God works through people who are responsive to God’s leading. There is nothing in this world that cannot be accomplished. Jesus said, “You feed them!” And we can. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
8) Christy, Grade III A. A man was packing a shipment of food for the poor people of Appalachia. He was separating beans from powdered milk, and canned vegetables from canned meats. Reaching into a box filled with various cans, he pulled out a little brown paper sack. Apparently one of the pupils had brought something different from the items on the suggested list. Out of the paper bag fell a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and a cookie. Crayoned in large letters was a little girl’s name, “Christy, Grade III A.’ A little girl had given up her lunch for some hungry person as did the little boy did in today’s Gospel. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
9) “Born of the virgin Edna…” There was pastor who used his computer to create a personalized printed program for every Baptism. To make each one special, he’d use the computer’s “search & replace” function to find the name of the last baby baptized and then replace it with the next baby’s name. So one Saturday evening, the priest told his computer to find the name “Mary,” last week’s baby, and to replace it with “Edna,” the next day’s baby. Next morning, everything went smoothly till the congregation reached the Apostles’ Creed and found themselves saying, “…And we believe in Jesus Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Edna…” So often our best intentions go awry, and before we get very old, the reality of our personal limitations becomes painfully clear. The Apostles in Sunday’s Gospel knew their limits only too well, especially when they stood next to Jesus. So when Jesus looked at the crowd of about 20,000 and told the Apostles to feed the people, they were truly abashed. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
10) A poor girl’s donation of “five loaves and two fish”: A sobbing little girl stood near a small Sunday school building. The pastor asked her why she was crying. “I can’t get into the Sunday school,” she sobbed. “The teacher said it was too crowded.” Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason. Taking her by the hand, the pastor took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who had no place to learn about Jesus. Two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings, and her parents called for the kind-hearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle arrangements for her funeral. As her body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found which she might have gotten from some trash dump. Inside was found fifty-seven cents and a note scribbled in a child’s handwriting. It read, “This is my saving to help build our small church and the little Sunday school bigger so that many more children can go to worship God and to learn about Jesus.” For two years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he should do.
Carrying this note and the child’s purse to the pulpit, he told the story of the poor little girl’s unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his parishioners to raise enough money for a larger church and bigger Sunday school. A newspaper learned of the story and published it. It was read by a realtor who offered them a plot of land worth thousands, for the price of fifty-seven cents — the amount the little girl had saved. The parishioners made large donations. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00, a huge amount at the turn of the last century. Her unselfish, sacrificial love had paid large dividends.
When you next visit the city of Philadelphia, look for Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300, and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital, and the Sunday school building which houses hundreds of Sunday scholars, so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time. In one of the rooms of this building you will see the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose fifty-seven cents, so sacrificially saved, and had such a remarkable history. Alongside is a portrait of her kind pastor, Rev. Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book Acres of Diamonds. In today’s Gospel we read the similar story of a boy who sacrificially shared his little lunch with Jesus, thus cooperating with Him in the miraculous feeding of a huge crowd. (Confer Snopes.com for the true story). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
11) CNN heroes 2010: Out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries, Narayan Krishnan from Madurai, India was selected as one of the Top 10 in “CNN heroes 2010″. In 2002, he was a cook for the prestigious Taj Hotel in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. He was selected for advanced training in Switzerland in his chosen profession as a hotel chef. He describes the moment of awakening that changed the course of his life. “I saw a very old man, eating waste food thrown out into a dumpster. I went to the nearby hotel bought some bread and gave it to the old man. Believe me; I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.” Right away, Krishnan quit his job and dreams of becoming a chef. Defying religious, caste and social conventions he spent his life by pouring his time and effort into feeding, bathing and grooming the destitute, mentally ill and elderly left uncared for and languishing in the streets. By founding the Akshaya Trust in 2003, he made thousands of people partners and facilitators of his acts of kindness. Every day, he wakes up at 4 a.m., cooks a simple hot meal and then, along with his team, loads it in a van and travels about 125 miles (201 km) feeding the homeless and mentally-disabled in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. He serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to 400 indigent and elderly people in Madurai. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus felt compassion for the spiritually and physically hungry people and fed them miraculously. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
12) The whole room was filled with light: In a book entitled Healing Through the Mass (pages 84-85, published by Resurrection Press and authored by Fr Robert DeGrandis S.S.J.), I read the following. NASA did some experimenting with a special type of camera that could see the energy levels in the human body. This is then seen on a monitor. This energy shows up as an aura around the body. NASA’s interest in the experiment was to investigate the effects of space travel on astronauts in orbit. Experimenting in a hospital they discovered that when a person is dying, the aura around the body is thinner and gets thinner and thinner until the person dies. The scientist carrying out this investigation in the hospital and his associate were behind a two-way mirror. They could see with their camera another man coming into the room with light coming from his pocket. Then the man took the object from his pocket and did something so that in the camera the whole room was filled with light and with their camera they could no longer see what was happening. They ran to the room to see what was causing so much light to appear in their camera. They discovered that the dying man was being given Holy Communion. Afterwards with their camera they could see that the aura around him was brighter. Although in his fifties, the scientist conducting the experiment decided to become a priest after witnessing that. (Fr. Tommy Lane). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
13) Christ’s love stands up to trials: There is a funny story about a small-town trial many years ago. Everyone was gathered in the courthouse. The prosecuting attorney called his first witness, an elderly woman, to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And, frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. Yes, I know you.” The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?” She replied, “Why, of course I do. “I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to babysit him. And he, too, has been a real disappointment. He’s lazy, bigoted, and has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is shoddy and crooked. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you ask her if she knows me, I’ll hold you both in contempt of court!” (E- Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
14) King and two beggars: There is an old story about a king and two beggars dressed in rags. The king announced a banquet in honor of his son’s wedding; anyone dressed in royal garments was welcome to attend. Both beggars longed to attend the banquet, but neither had any royal garments. The first beggar spent the day gathering lost coins and doing odd jobs. Finally, he went to the clothing merchant, presented his handful of coins, and asked for some royal robes. But the merchant laughed and said, “You can’t buy royal robes for pennies, old man!” The second beggar had a different idea. He made his way to the king’s castle, knocked on the gate, and asked to see the king. The guard brought him to the chamberlain, who took the beggar before the king’s throne. The beggar, shaking with fright, bowed low and said, “Please, your majesty, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may come to the banquet tonight?” The beggar was shaking so hard that he could not see the faint smile on the king’s face. “You have been wise in coming to me,” the king said. He called to his son, the young prince. “Take this man to your room and array him in some of your clothes, so that he too may enjoy the royal hospitality on this glorious night.” The story teaches that Christ doesn’t love us because we earned his love by our achievements; he loves us because his goodness is unconditional and overflowing, especially in the face of our weaknesses, failures, and miseries. We need only cooperate with his grace. (E- Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
15) You feed them: Tony Campolo is a professor of sociology and a popular speaker. He was once invited to a women’s conference where he was to give a major address. These women were being challenged to raise several thousand dollars for a mission project goal. While Campolo was sitting on the dais, the chairperson turned to him and asked him if he would pray for God’s blessing as they considered their individual responses to the goal. Campolo stood and–to the utter amazement of everyone present–graciously said “No.” He approached the microphone and said, “You already have all the resources necessary to complete this mission project right here within this room. It would be inappropriate to ask for God’s blessing, when in fact God has already blessed you with the abundance and the means to achieve this goal. The necessary gifts are in your hands. As soon as we take the offering and underwrite this mission project, we will thank God for freeing us to be the generous, responsible and accountable stewards that we’re called to be as Christian disciples.” And they did. Wow! Leave it to Tony Campolo to hit the nail right on the thumb! Jesus says, “You feed them!” And we can! This is a rich world and we are rich people! (King Duncan, “You Feed Them!” Quoted by Fr. Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
16) Loving Generosity: Time before time, when the world was young, two brothers shared a field and a mill. Each night they divided evenly the grain they had ground together during the day. Now, as it happened, one of the brothers lived alone; the other had a wife and a large family. One day the single brother thought to himself: “It isn’t really fair that we divide the grain equally. I have only myself to care for, but my brother has children to feed.” So each night he secretly took some of his grain to his brother’s granary to see that he was never without. But the married brother said to himself one day, “It isn’t fair that we should divide the grain equally, because I have children to provide for me in my old age, but my brother has no one. What will he do when he is old?” So every night he secretly took some of his grain to his brother’s granary. As a result, both of them always found their supply of grain mysteriously replenished each morning. Then one night the brothers meeting each other halfway between their two houses, suddenly realized what had been happening and embraced each other in love. The story is that God witnessed their meeting and proclaimed, “This is a holy place – a place of love – and here it is that My Temple shall be built.” And so it was. The holy place where God is made known, is where human beings discover each other in love. (Wilkie Au in By Way of the Heart; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
17) More blessed to give than to receive: There was the beggar who sat at the temple gate every day, begging for his living. One day he heard that the King was coming to the Temple and he was all excited, sure that the king would give him enough alms so he wouldn’t have to beg any more. He eagerly awaited the arrival of the king but when the king came, the King did a strange thing. Instead of giving alms, he begged for alms himself. Perplexed, the beggar put his hand into his bag and reluctantly puts a few grains of rice into the king’s hands. Thanking him, the king departed, putting back to the beggar’s bag the grains he received, much to the disappointment of the beggar. At the end of the day the beggar returned home frustrated. But when he poured out the contents of his bag to check his day’s collection, to his great surprise, he discovered a few grains of gold among the rice. How he wished he had given more to the king! (Ravindra Nath Tagore; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
18) Soup Stone and miracle of sharing: One day a village woman was surprised to find a well-dressed stranger at her door asking for something to eat. “I’m sorry,” she said, “But I have nothing in the house right now.” “Not to worry,” said the amiable stranger. “I have a soup stone in my bag; if you will let me put it in a pot of boiling water, I’ll make the most delicious soup in the world. A large pot please.” The woman gave him the pot. He put the stone into it and filled the pot with water. As he put it on the fire, she whispered the secret of the soup stone to a neighbor. Soon all the neighbors had gathered to see the stranger and his soup stone. When the water began to boil, the stranger tasted a spoonful and exclaimed, “Very tasty! All it needs is some potatoes.” “I have potatoes at home,” shouted one woman. In a few minutes she was back with a large quantity of sliced potatoes, which were placed in the pot. Then the stranger tasted the brew again. “Excellent!” he said, adding, “if we only had some meat this would become a tasty stew.” Another housewife rushed home to bring some meat, which the stranger graciously accepted and deposited in the pot. When he tasted the broth again, he rolled his eyes heavenwards and said, “Delicious!” If only we had some vegetables, it would be perfect.” One of the neighbors rushed off home and returned with a basket of carrots and onions. After these had been put in, the stranger tasted the mixture and in a voice of command said, “Salt and sauce” “Right here,” said the housewife. Then came another command, “Bowls for everyone.” People rushed to their homes in search of bowls. Some even brought back bread and fruit. Then they all sat down to a delicious meal while the stranger handed out large helpings of his incredible soup. Everyone felt strangely happy as they laughed and talked and shared their first common meal. In the middle of the merriment the stranger slipped quietly away, leaving behind the miraculous soup stone, which they used every time they wanted to make the loveliest soup in the world. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
19) Family doctor with compassion: Elton Lehman, a Country Doctor who still makes House Calls, has tended to the needs of Ohio’s Amish. Winding his way through the rolling hills near ‘Mount Eaton, Ohio, Dr. Elton Lehman reaches every house. For nearly 35 years, the Amish of Holmes County, who for the most part shun such modern conveniences as cars and electricity, have relied on Lehman, for his sound advice and sympathetic bedside manner. In a culture where virtually no one has more than an eighth-grade education, Lehman is the rare trusted outsider. So beloved is he in the area that Mount Eaton, a town with Amish and non-Amish residents, recently re-elected him mayor for a third consecutive term. Lehman took a 3:00 a.m. phone call from a former Amish patient with a relative who had suffered a massive stroke. Without a second thought, Lehman drove 60 miles to answer the call. Lehman expressed his compassion by being available at any time. Jesus showed his compassion with love in action. When Jesus passed two blind men who cried out for mercy, he touched their eyes and their sight was restored (Matthew, 20). When a leper came to Jesus and asked to be clean again, Jesus touched him, and the man’s leprosy was cured. Jesus was moved with compassion (Mark 1:4). (fr. Bobby Jose). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
20) Narayan Krishnan feeding 400: Out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries, Narayan Krishnan from Madurai was selected as one of the Top 10 in “CNN heroes 2010″. Many people walk through life visually registering the objects, landscape and living creatures around them visually without actually seeing them. There are rare people who feel that to hear or see in suffering or imbalance in the world is a message from a Higher Power that they are in that place and in that time to alleviate it. Narayanan Krishnan is such a person. In 2002, he was a cook for the prestigious Taj Hotel in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. He was headed for stellar achievements in Switzerland in his chosen profession as a hotel chef. He described as follows the moment of awakening that changed the course of his life. “I saw a very old man, literally eating dirt out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli, which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”Right away, Krishnan quit his job, defying religious, caste and social conventions by pouring his time and effort into feeding, bathing and grooming the destitute, mentally ill and elderly left uncared for and languishing in the streets. By founding the Akshaya Trust in 2003, he made thousands of people partners and facilitators of his acts of kindness. His day of devotion to the poor of his city is described as follows. Every day, he wakes up at 4 a.m., cooks a simple hot meal and then, along with his team, loads it in a van and travels about 125 miles (201 km) feeding the homeless and mentally disabled in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. He serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to 400 indigent and elderly people in Madurai. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony L/20
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 42) by Fr. Tony: email@example.com
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